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Why I Majored in Science, Technology and Society

Dakota Crookston ’21

I came to Pomona fully intending to major in international relations. I wanted to understand other cultures, the interplay between nations, learn languages and travel. However, Pomona offers so many options of study, and I was also interested in studying subjects that I didn’t have access to at my high school. I found myself on the astrophysics track. The summer after my first year, I did a Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) with my ID1 professor, Visiting Instructor in Physics and Astronomy Elijah Quetin. The goal of the project was to write a computer program which would detect variable objects, such as black holes supernovae, through images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The programming aspect of my research, and my interest in emerging tech, led me from wanting to major in astrophysics to computer science.

Still, I was reluctant to settle on just one of these prospective majors, and I struggled to find an intersection of my interests. In spring 2019, I took [the course] “U.S. Foreign Policy and Philosophy of Technology” and became increasingly interested in science and technology policy. I realized that majoring in science, technology and society would allow me to continue building a foundational understanding in the disciplines I was interested in. It would also equip me with a framework for analyzing technologies not as mere tools, but in terms of their greater, profoundly transformative, systemic impact. My favorite class so far has been a philosophy course, “Discovery, Invention, and Progress,” and I am looking forward to taking “Technology Politics” or “Data Ethics” in the future.

Going into my senior year, I am looking forward to joining my major and my Russian minor in a thesis that will help me better understand the impact of science and technology in international affairs.

Zena Meyer ’21

When people ask me about why I major in STS, I often respond with a quick—and honest—response of “it requires very few courses I’m not interested in.” That’s true, but it reflects a central aspect of STS: It’s interdisciplinary, intercollegiate and has interesting courses taught by intelligent and caring professors. 

From chemistry to philosophy, from Pomona’s south campus Carnegie to Harvey Mudd’s Shanahan Center, STS professors and courses have helped me develop skills in writing, communication, analysis, quantitative reasoning and research. I’m able to draw from a variety of disciplines—from economics to math to history—to solve and analyze problems qualitatively and quantitatively. 

Through Pomona’s resources, I’ve been able to pursue extracurricular opportunities that relate to STS. Funding from the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) allowed me to analyze local warehouse growth and environmental justice issues. That summer I also completed an internship at the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington D.C. with the help of the Pomona College Internship Program (PCIP). This past summer, I interned for a Pomona alumnus at Arcadia Power, an energy tech start-up where I researched and analyzed the regulatory environment and market sizes for potential environmental products. Throughout these opportunities, I’ve used the analysis, writing, and communication skills I’ve learned in my STS courses.